It’s been six long weeks since sports were put on hold. The all-virtual NFL draft will look to help alleviate the angst that sports fans are feeling while in quarantine.
This year’s draft class has deep talent at the wide receiver position and a heavily valued running back class that will be featured in the later rounds. In the first round, there will also be up to four quarterbacks taken plus a run on offensive tackles for teams with young quarterbacks. So, without further ado, the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
With the first pick in the draft, the Bengals have the choice of a once-in-a-generation edge rusher or a franchise quarterback that will change the course of their below-average organization. After putting up one of the greatest seasons in college football history, the sky’s the limit for Joe Burrow. With this pick, Cincinnati can take its chance to break out of quarterback purgatory with one of the best quarterback prospects in recent years.
- Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio StateYoung has uncommon athletic abilities that makes him the best player in this year’s draft. If it wasn’t for the importance of the quarterback position, he would, without a doubt, be the first overall pick. He dominated competition at Ohio State and might even be better than both of the Bosa brothers (both Buckeye legends). There is no need for the Redskins to overthink this selection.
- Miami Dolphins: (projected trade with DET): Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The buzz around the league is the Dolphins are hotter on Justin Herbert than former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. They have the ammunition to move up and select Herbert. While Tagovailoa is the more pro-ready prospect, Herbert is more of a project who will take time to develop. He is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects on the board. If Herbert booms, he could be the next Carson Wentz. If he busts, he’ll end up like Mitchell Trubisky.
- New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
What Giants general manager Dave Gettleman decides to do with this pick is one of the more interesting mysteries of the first round. Will he trade down or stay put? Offensive tackle is the biggest need for the Giants, but Simmons is too good to pass up. He has a diverse skill set and can play any linebacker position plus hybrid safety and slot corner in sub-packages. His speed, length and versatility make him a mismatch against anyone. Any team would want a once-in-a-generation versatile defender like him.
- Detroit Lions (projected trade with MIA): Jeff Odukah, CB, Ohio State
It is likely that the Lions will trade down to select a cornerback. The loss of Darius Slay has left the Lions in dire need of a replacement. Odukah is a safe pick for the Lions. He is a blue-chip player who has the potential to be a dominant shutdown corner. Odukah will be a starter on day one and provide an upgrade to the Lions secondary.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
There are a lot of questions surrounding Tua Tagovailoa when it comes to his durability and long-term prognosis. However, he is the best player available at the position the Chargers need to address. Tua’s ceiling is undoubtedly one of the highest of all quarterbacks in this class. This pick is a steal for the Chargers if he remains healthy.
- Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
With Isaiah Simmons off the board, the Panthers will grab another top-five prospect on the board. Derrick Brown has elite size and disruptive traits to be a great defensive tackle in the league. He will be a day one starter and a cornerstone of the Panthers defense for the years to come.
- Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Offensive tackle is the logical choice here for the Cardinals. They got their quarterback of the future last year, now they need to protect him. Wirfs is one of the better offensive line prospects in recent years. He is a blue-chip player with great versatility and athletic traits. Wirfs will immediately be a starter in the league and help shore up the Cardinals offensive line.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (projected trade with JAX): Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Jacksonville is in tank mode and needs more picks for the future whereas Tampa Bay is ready to win now. With Tom Brady under center, the team desperately needs protection. Running back could be an option here, but there’s plenty of other backs available in later rounds. Andrew Thomas can play either tackle position, which is a plus for a team looking to upgrade their offensive line. It is the perfect pick to help the G.O.A.T and a team that is looking to win immediately.
- Atlanta Falcons (projected trade with CLE): CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Rumors are abuzz that Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is looking to trade up in the first round. It is not unlike Dimitroff to do that, as he has done so in recent years. CJ Henderson has been rising up the draft boards and could end up as a top-10 pick. He is a great cover corner that the Falcons need as part of their defense.
- New York Jets: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
CeeDee Lamb is worth a thought, but the Jets need to get protection for Sam Darnold. Their offensive line was atrocious last season as they were responsible for 52 sacks and 106 QB hits. Jedrick Wills is a brutish blocker who is ideal for the tackle position. He will be New York’s day one starting right tackle and automatically upgrades the offensive line.
- Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders could realistically use this pick to move up and grab a quarterback, but there are much bigger needs they should address with their two first-rounders. The WR1 spot is one of them. CeeDee Lamb is an explosive playmaker who is an ideal fit for head coach Jon Gruden’s offense. He should be able to be schemed into open space. Lamb gives the Raiders a true WR1 for the future.
- San Francisco 49ers (from IND): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Besides Deebo Samuel, the 49ers receiving corps have a lot of question marks surrounding them. They add another spark to the offense with Jeudy. He is a smooth route runner with electric burst and speed. Football fans know that head coach Kyle Shanahan loves speed on his offense. Jeudy will allow Shanahan to be more creative in stretching the field and providing a spark on offense outside of Samuel.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (projected trade with TB): Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
After losing Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus, the once-great defensive line of the Jaguars needs to be rebuilt. With Kinlaw on the board, it’s impossible to not pass him up. He’s a top-10 overall talent in this class who has a great mix of size and strength. This is the perfect scenario for Jacksonville as it rebuilds its rushing attack.
- Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Broncos seem to be all in on Drew Lock. Broncos general manager John Elway will need to add to the skill position corps to help his young quarterback. There is one word to describe Henry Ruggs III, and that is fast. Ruggs ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with a time of 4.27 seconds.He will add another dimension to the Broncos offense and give Lock a player to stretch the field.
- Cleveland Browns (projected trade with ATL): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
The offensive line was one of the most glaring issues for the Browns last year from a football standpoint. They signed Jack Conklin in free agency but still don’t have a plan opposite of him. Mekhi Becton is a mountain of a man, measuring 6feet and 7 inches, weighing 364 pounds and runs a 5.1 40-yard dash. With this pick, the Browns have quality tackles on both ends.
- Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
It is clear that the Cowboys will need to upgrade on the defensive side of the ball to remain competitive this year. After losing Robert Quinn in free agency, the Cowboys need to grab a player to go alongside Demarcus Lawrence. K’Lavon Chaisson is a versatile edge defender with elite explosiveness and a good build. There are still some kinks to be worked out when it comes to defending the run. However, this is the best scenario for Dallas.
- Miami Dolphins: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
The Dolphins have one of the best cornerback duos in the league in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard. But they need more help at the safety position after trading Minkah Fitzpatrick for this pick. Xavier McKinney has a high football IQ and will be a good center fielder. He is a good fit for any sub-package the Dolphins want to run.
- Las Vegas Raiders (via CHI): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
Cornerback is a huge need for the Raiders. Fulton is the best corner on the board at this point. He can play in both a man and a zone scheme. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden tend to select players coming off big years in big programs. Fulton fits the mold of what the duo wants to do on defense.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR): Antoine Winfield Jr., S/CB, Minnesota
The Jaguars lost both AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey recently. With this pick, they should grab Winfield Jr., a do-it-all defensive back who is able to make plays against both the run and the pass. He has been a steady riser over the course of the draft season. Winfield can easily transform a defense when he arrives, something the Jaguars need as they rebuild their defense.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
There are not many holes on the Eagles roster. However, the lack of talent at wide receiver has been nothing but a thorn in Carson Wentz’s side. Jefferson is a perfect fit for what Doug Pederson wants to accomplish on offense. Jefferson would give Wentz some much-needed help on the outside.
- Minnesota Vikings (via BUF): Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
The Vikings need to draft a replacement for Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Gladney is the mold that Mike Zimmer prefers in a cornerback. He is big, tough and physical off the ball. Gladney has all the potential of being a future CB1.
- New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
It is unlike Bill Belichick to do something like this, but life after Tom Brady is now a reality. There is no way the Patriots can go into the season with only Jarrett Stidham and career backup Brian Hoyer on the depth chart. Jordan Love has a rocket for an arm and is a natural drop back passer. However, he regressed last season, has spotty accuracy and inconsistent decision making. This pick is a gamble on the biggest boom-or-bust quarterback prospect. Considering the system in New England is quarterback friendly, it is a great place for Love to sit and develop.
- New Orleans Saints: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Drew Brees’ replacement could be selected here if Jordan Love is still available, but the Saints’ goal is to win now. One of the question marks surrounding this team is the linebacker position, which is filled with injury concerns. Queen is an elite off-the-ball linebacker who has a very quick sideline-to-sideline burst. Considering he is the best player available at the position of weakness, the Saints should pull the trigger.
- Minnesota Vikings: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
With Stefon Diggs’ departure, the Vikings need someone to go alongside Adam Thielen. Denzel Mims is quietly one of the best wide receivers in this draft. He is a big-bodied receiver who has an amazing catch radius, pretty good speed on the outside and consistently wins with his hands on the line of scrimmage. With an offense that likes to stretch the field on play-action passing, Mims would be a perfect receiver for what the Vikes want to do in the passing game.
- Miami Dolphins: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
The Dolphins need offensive lineman to protect their new young quarterback. Josh Jones is the best player available at the position of need. He is a good athlete who can counter speed rushers effectively. If Jones is polished over the summer, he could be their day one starter. It ends a good night for the Dolphins as they grab three future starters.
- Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
The Seahawks could trade down to a quarterback-needy team if Jordan Love is still on the board at this time, but he has already been taken in this mock draft. They need to grab Jadeveon Clowney’s replacement here. Gross-Matos is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end who has a high ceiling at the position. This is a high-value pick that can pay off in a few years.
- Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
In his first draft, general manager Eric DeCosta waited patiently to pick Hollywood Brown at No. 25 overall. The story here is that good things happen to those who wait. Murray is a three-down linebacker who flies around the field from sideline-to-sideline. The Ravens get a stud linebacker who will fill the void in the middle of their defense.
- Tennessee Titans: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
Jeremy Chinn has been climbing up the draft boards in recent weeks. There are plenty of reasons why. Chinn is a very exciting player that fits the mold of a modern-day hybrid safety who can also fill in at linebacker and nickel corner. He has great size and speed that makes him a weapon in sub-packages. The former Saluki could be a sleeper star for the Titans.
- Green Bay Packers: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
There is a possibility that Green Bay could trade up to grab a quarterback for coach Matt LaFleur to develop, but they wouldn’t mortgage an entire draft away. The lack of
weapons outside of WR Davante Adams has been bothersome for QB Aaron Rodgers. Signing Devin Funchess in free agency is a first step of addressing the problem, but they need to go further. Higgins could be a good WR2 for the present and a WR1 down the line. He is a big-bodied receiver who would be perfect for Rodgers to use in both the short and deep passing game.
- San Francisco 49ers: Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
The 49ers already addressed their first need. Now, they need to go after another need. After DeForest Buckner was traded to the Colts in the offseason, the 49ers use their second first-rounder to grab his replacement. Blacklock is a raw talent with good athletic traits. He has much more untapped potential in his game, which will be a test for the 49ers coaching staff to get the most out of him.
- Kansas City Chiefs: AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson
The corner situation in Kansas City isn’t good. They lost Kendall Fuller in free agency and need to replace him. AJ Terrell could be the corner who helps the Chiefs get back to the Super Bowl. He has great ball-playing abilities and is aggressive when playing press coverage. Terrell is a no brainer for the Chiefs if he is still on the board at 32.